Experiments in Cooking

Chana masala in IP

The process started in the morning, soaking 1/2 lb of beans in 4 cups of water, with 1 tsp baking soda (optional). The soaking itself is optional – you can simply pressure cook for 60 minutes instead of 40.

Oil seasoned with cumin. Garlic bits are browned & onion is waiting its turn.

Cooked down to a coarse paste with tomatoes and all the spices added in.

The beans tend to foam in the cooker, and adding a tbsp of oil before cooking is rumored to reduce the foaming. Mine had some foam that I rinsed off, but nothing that made it to the lid.

I reserved 1/2 cup of cooked beans to blend into a puree. This makes the liquid of the dish heartier and gives it a better consistency.

Ta-da! Le chat noir approves.


1.2 lb dried garbanzo beans
1 tsp baking soda (optional – might improve softness and reduce flatulence. TBD.)

1 medium onion – diced small or coarse grated
2 medium tomatoes – diced
2 pearls garlic – finely diced
1” knob ginger – finely grated
1 tsp cumin seeds (do not grind)
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tsp (scant) sugar (optional)
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp vegetable oil / ghee / coconut oil

spice mix made by grinding together:

  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 6 peppercorns
  • small piece cinnamon
  • 1” piece dried red chili }}

salt – to taste

Optional toppings:

fresh cilantro leaves
fresh sliced or diced onions
1 tbsp of ghee (if dairy ok)

NOTE: Many families like to cook this dish with one hot green chili (like a thai chilli), slit lengthwise, and added to the pot with the tomatoes. I’ve been skipping this step since my son won’t eat anything spicy.

Preparing the beans:

Rinse beans in cold water. Soak them in ample water (4 cups for 1/2 lb) with 1 tsp baking soda. Allow to soak 8 hrs (am to pm) or overnight. Drain.

Pressure cook for 40 minutes on high pressure with 4 cups fresh water, 1 tbsp vegetable oil, and 1-2 tsp salt. When done, drain the beans, reserving some water for cooking with. Set 1/2 cup of the cooked beans aside. If there is foam on your beans, feel free to rinse them.

Preparing the onion-tomato base:

Meanwhile, heat a medium sized pan to med-high heat. Add 1 tbsp oil to it, and 1 tsp cumin seeds. Add the diced garlic, and allow to turn barely-brown. Add onions, mix well, and spread out to brown (allow to gently caramelize by not tossing them too much). At this point, add the optional sugar if desired to get a more caramel color.

Add the turmeric & spice mix and coat the onions, stirring gently for a minute.

Add the chopped tomatoes and continue cooking till everything comes together in a chunky paste. Add the grated ginger and mix.

Bring it all together:

Leaving aside the reserved 1/2 cup of beans, add the rest to the pan (or add the spice paste to the pressure cooker – either works). Add enough of the cooking water to just cover.

Grind the reserved beans down with 1/4 cup cold water and add to the pan.

Check for salt, adjusting if needed. Do the same with the spiciness, adjusting with powdered cilantro/cumin/red chili as needed. Continue to simmer for 15 minutes till all the flavors come together.

Serve with optional toppings:
fresh cilantro leaves
fresh sliced or diced onions
1 tbsp of ghee (if dairy ok)

I eat chana masala with a simple cumin rice. I *would* like to eat it with warm parathas, but I don’t have the patience for that 🙂